Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Stanford Cardinal season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Stanford Cardinal
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Stanford Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
Nothing against Stanford, but at some point, someone will break the bank to hire David Shaw.
All the guy does is go to Pac-12 title games on a regular basis at a place that can only go after the really, really smart dudes. All he does is find a way to keep it all going.
With 73 wins in seven seasons, three Pac-12 championships, and two other conference title game appearances, Stanford has been really, really close to doing massive things under its head man. But the 2015 team’s opening weekend loss to Northwestern – the massive Christian McCaffrey year – soured its CFP chances from the start, and the 2011 team that would’ve been close, did its 11-1 regular season thing in a BCS era.
Even so, he took what Jim Harbaugh got rolling and made it even better, turning Stanford into a national powerhouse that’s been better and more accomplished than USC, Michigan, Texas, and a slew of other big name places over the last seven seasons.
And that includes Tennessee, Florida, Nebraska, and UCLA, who all had big-time job openings and didn’t make a big-time, $70 million-for-ten-years Jimbo Fisher pitch at Shaw. That doesn’t include Florida State – that was a very, very good run under Fisher – who ended up hiring Willie Taggart, who has won a fat load of nothing so far.
But Shaw has made it known that he enjoys life in Palo Alto. He gets paid over $4 million a year after all is said and done, he’s able to win there, and again, he gets to live in Palo Alto.
Of course, there’s the pro world that’s out there waiting for him. The longtime NFL assistant can flip to the big leagues whenever wants, but for now, he’s got a great thing going.
However, as great a head coach as he is, and for all the wonderful things he’s doing at a place that’s tougher than it seems to win at – remember, Stanford went from 2002 to 2008 without a winning season, and was 1-11 in 2006 – he’s almost certainly not going to get to the College Football Playoff this year, either.
But that doesn’t mean this season won’t be a whole lot of fun – getting back Bryce Love and a potential Heisman run will ensure that – and considering what he’s done in the past, that doesn’t mean the Cardinal won’t find their way in another Pac-12 Championship game.
The schedule is just too nasty. The Pac-12 won’t be as bad this season as it’s been in the last few years, and throw in non-conference games against San Diego State and Notre Dame – along with dates against USC, at Oregon, Utah, Washington State at Washington, at Cal, and at UCLA – getting through unbeaten or with just one loss is too much to ask for out of a rebuilding team.
The defense is going to be the issue. It’s not going to be horrible – it’s Stanford; the D will alway be fine – but it has to replace the top seven tacklers and has a potential big problem on the interior if it can’t find the next Harrison Phillips or Solomon Thomas right away.
Fortunately, the offense will be amazing. The line will be among the Pac-12’s best again, the receiving corps is full of veteran options, and as long as KJ Costello is healthy, the quarterback situation is good enough to win with.
And, of course, Mr. Love leads another loaded backfield for a ground game that’ll be unstoppable at times.
The kickers will be among the strongest in the conference, the little things – like turnover margin – will be great again …
And of course, the coaching will be as good as it gets.